Former construction magnate Tony Accurso, charged with one count of breach of trust, was acquitted at the Joliette courthouse Tuesday morning.
Accurso was on trial for allegedly exchanging money for construction contracts in Mascouche.
Quebec Superior Court Justice James Brunton presided over the jury trial, which began Monday, Jan. 15.
Accurso didn’t react strongly when the verdict was read aloud, but was seen leaving the courtroom grinning.
The jurors were sequestered on Monday at noon, meaning they deliberated for less than 24 hours.
“The available proof they had against Accurso was insufficient, that’s why it didn’t take long,” said defence lawyer Mark Labelle.
He said they welcomed the verdict with a sense of relief and that he felt Accurso’s testimony made the difference.
The trial lasted a total of three weeks, but the case has been making its way through the courts since 2012.
Originally, Accurso faced six charges, but five were dropped.
One of those charges — of influencing a municipal official using illegal means — was dropped Jan. 24 without explanation.
Last year, Accurso tried to have the charges stayed, arguing his case was taking too long to get to trial, but his request was turned down.
During the trial, he was asked about loaning $300,000 to the late mayor of Mascouche, Richard Marcotte.
When questioned about the lack of a paper trail for the loan, Accurso answered: “When there’s a loan between friends, a handshake is enough.”
Marcotte died of cancer in 2016, before he was able to pay back the loan.
Accurso is also facing charges of fraud, conspiracy, breach of trust and corruption in Laval.
An issue with three jury members resulted in a mistrial in October.
The mistrial does not mean Accurso was found not guilty nor that the charges were dropped.
He is expected to be back in court in Laval May 7.
No mention of the Laval trial was made to the Joliette jurors, who also didn’t hear about the accused’s testimony at the Charbonneau commission in 2014.
Read the original story over at CBC News.